To China and back

mms_img1428669505If you had any doubts about the popularity of organics, they should have been dispelled this month.

The Australian Certified Organic display at the inaugural Naturally Good Expo in Sydney was sometimes four deep with businesses wanting to know more about organic certification for their retail outlet (pictured are Brittany Stewart and Kellie Lewis).

The Expo attracted over 2,000 visitors and 183 food, beverage, textile and skincare trade exhibitors certified by Australian Certified Organic. Australian Organic was proud to partner with the organisers, National Media, to make this event possible and grow the organic industry.

Australian Organic was invited to give presentations to delegates about consumer trends based on the findings in the Australian Organic Market Report and I had the opportunity to explain the benefits of organic certification for retailers.

Naturally Good Expo was immediately followed by Asia’s largest food and beverage show – SIAL China from May 6 – 9. For the first time Australian Certified Organic exhibited at the event, supported by nine businesses including Arcadian Organic & Natural Meat Co. and Coolibah Herbs. The quantity and quality of buyers was overwhelming. As one exhibitor said: “You read and hear about the size of the Asian market but it doesn’t sink in until you experience it.” The beauty of a group of certified organic businesses getting together to exhibit with us was that buyers could access a whole range of products at the one stand – from certified organic beef, vegetables, condiments and flours to wine, chocolate, dried fruit and pet food. We had it all.

jessica at SIALColumnist, author, e-commerce entrepreneur and ambassador for Australian Organic, Jessica Rudd (pictured on left with Sam Hilleard from Nature’s Gift), was invited to be part of the SIAL China speaker line up and our Chair, Dr Andrew Monk, was joined by certification officer Yoon Kok to participate in an Austrade presentation to delegates. Hats off to Joanne Barber and Kim Morgan for organising such a successful event.

Wrapping up a big four weeks of events was the Produce Marketing Association conference in Melbourne, which featured an all day session on organics partly presented by Australian Organic and Australian Certified Organic. Helping more fruit and vegetable growers into the industry is one of the key objectives of our group and horticulture events like this help to achieve this.

Over 90 members of Australian Organic joined a webinar at the end of April, which explained the many opportunities in China and how to achieve Chinese organic certification. Special thanks to Export Manager with Sanitarium, Matthew McKenzie, who joined the webinar panel to shed light on exporting to China.

Thorough auditing is fundamental to maintaining the integrity of the organic industry. Australian Certified Organic contracts 11 auditors around the country to conduct annual inspections on organic businesses. If you’re interested in becoming an auditor come along to a training webinar on Wednesday, May 27 or Thursday, May 28.

If you’re in Western Australia, I hope to see you on June 5 on a tour of one of the most innovative orchards and pack houses in the southern hemisphere when Australian Organic, Newton Brothers Orchards and Valley View Orchards hosts Australian Organic members and Australian Certified Organic clients in Manjimup. You can find out more here.

Australian Certified Organic is also looking forward to contributing to a Senate Inquiry into third party certification of food, which includes organic. The Inquiry will investigate a number of things including labelling requirements and consumer information. As an independent certifier Australian Certified Organic maintains a transparent and fair service, so much so that it was recognised by a Choice award in 2010. You will find the terms of reference for the Inquiry here. If Australian Organic members would like to contribute to our submission please email chair@staging.austorganic.com

Don’t forget you can also stay up to date with what we’re doing on LinkedIn. This is where you will find out about the latest opportunities for your business and connect with the broader, extremely popular, organic industry.

Until next time,

Paul Stadhams
CEO, Australian Organic